B.C. father haunted by ‘nightmares’ of daughter’s violent murder in 100 Mile House

Supreme Court Justice hears submissions for sentencing in Michael Martel case

The 88-year-old father of a woman brutally murdered in her home by her ex-boyfriend said he will probably never know the true extent of the emotional damage his daughter’s death has caused him.

As he read his victim impact statement to the courtoom, Leon Dumstrey-Soos said the loss of his daughter, Vesna Dumstrey-Soos three years ago on Jan. 4 outside of 100 Mile House, has given him immense pain, emotional anguish and trauma and will for the rest of his life.

“I have no words to express the loss of my daughter or how to be a normal, functioning person as a grandfather, great grandfather, friend or contributing citizen,” Leon said, as he fought back tears. “My sleep through the night is constantly interrupted with nightmares of this horrendous crime.”

On Jan. 21, 2019, Michael Martel pleaded guilty to second degree murder, which resulted in the cancellation of a trial. Last week, on June 28, Martel returned for his sentencing hearing in Williams Lake where Crown Counsel Sara Hopkins described the crime as a “brutal beating death.”

READ MORE: 100 Mile man headed to trial for murder in Williams Lake

Vesna had extensive injuries, Hopkins said Friday, noting Martel taped her mouth and covered her head with a sweater during the attack. He later shot her four times, then shot and killed her dog and went home and shot his two cats.

Hopkins said Martel made no attempt to contact authorities after he’d killed Vesna, but went home, changed his clothes and slept. He then attended the 100 Mile House transfer station, before stopping to buy pizza and fled to Kamloops where he checked into a motel.

He turned himself in to police on Jan. 6, 2016 in Kamloops. The firearm he used to shoot Vesna has never been recovered.

Hopkins recommended the general principles of denunciation and deterrence should be taken into account when sentencing Martel.

“The photos from Vesna’s home depict a scene of violence and rage, a prolonged attack fuelled by alcohol and jealousy and anger,” Hopkins told the court.

She recommended life imprisonment, with no eligibility of parole for 17 years, a lifetime firearms prohibition and the requirement to provide DNA samples.

Martel, 49, stands about five feet nine inches tall.

He is stocky with a brush cut and on the day of the sentencing hearing was wearing a red prison uniform.

In her submission, defence counsel Kristy Neurauter said Martel was before the court with one of the “greatest offences imaginable.”

“His actions have obviously had a profound impact on Ms. Dumpstrey-Soos’s family and friends and their loss is clear in the reading of their impact statements.”

Neuraunter said Martel was “solely responsible” for the offence and “deeply remorseful.”

She outlined his history, which included being the product of a rape, and suffering emotional, physical and sexual abuse as a child.

Martel struggled for many years with addiction, depression and suicide and was diagnosed with substance abuse disorder, she said.

READ MORE: Deals on paid time off for domestic violence ‘beginning of a wave,’ says expert

In prison he used opioids three times in early 2016, but has remained clean since. He has taken an eight-week violence prevention course, and been assaulted in prison, with the most recent assault in 2017.

“He is working on the underlying issues that led to this offence,” Neuraunter said, recommending his life sentence should include no eligibility for parole for at least 12 years.

Before adjourning the hearing, Supreme Court Judge Marguerite Church asked Martel if he wanted to say anything to the court.

As he stood up inside the prisoner’s box to speak, Martel could only sob.

“I don’t know what to say,” he said. “I don’t know. I can’t talk — I’m sorry — at this time.”

Church said there is a great deal of public interest in the outcome of the trial.

“I heard through the victim impact statements the frustration in the delayed court appearances and the delay in these proceedings,” Church said. “I would like to say that I could impose sentence today, but I cannot and need an opportunity to consider, contemplate and think about everything I’ve heard here today.”

She set the sentencing date for Thursday, Aug. 15 in Williams Lake.

Vesna was 37 when she died and had been working as a child development consultant at the Cedar Crest Society in 100 Mile House.

Her sister, Tania Dumstrey-Soos died in May 2007, at the age of 32, after being mauled by a pet Siberian tiger belonging to her boyfriend at an exotic animal park in Bridge Lake.

Outside the courtroom, Leon said his daughter, Vesna, was the type of person that tried to help people, and he was always worried about her while she was in a common-law relationship with Martel, living with him and his son, on Norman Road.

READ MORE: Domestic violence alarm program utilized fully in Williams Lake

When the relationship ended in the latter part of 2015, Martel and his son moved out and were living less than one mile away.

Vesna’s friend Nicole Tremblay-Antonyshyn, in her victim impact statement, said she visited with Vesna in October 2015, and saw how happy she was to be starting a new life.

“She was finally getting her own legs and standing up for herself,” Tremblay-Antonyshyn said. “The sorrow I feel when I think of all the things Vesna was planning to do that she never will be able to do. Everything she was planning to do was taken away from her.”

Statement of facts and admissions presented to the court on Jan. 19, 2019 showed in the latter part of 2015, Vesna began a relationship with Trevor Todorwich who was living in Williams Lake.

On or about Dec. 19, Martel became aware Vesna was seeing another man.

When Martel arrived at Vesna’s home on the night of Jan. 3, 2016 at about 9 p.m. she was playing a video game with Todorowich who was in Williams Lake at the time.

Leon said Vesna had invited him to move from Kitimat and live with her in 100 Mile House, which they had planned for the end of February 2016.

“She wanted me to come earlier, and called me on Christmas Eve, but I was diagnosed with bone cancer just before Christmas and wasn’t able to,” Leon said.

“That’s something I will have to live with for the rest of my life: wondering if I could have saved her.”



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Alert Bay: COVID-19 cases go from 30 to zero thanks to health and emergency planning

Dr. Cutfeet says community leadership set Alert Bay up for success

Kwakiutl First Nation cautiously eases restrictions around COVID-19; Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw to remain locked down for now

Both First Nations near Port Hardy have no COVID-19 cases, and are prioritizing community safety

Pacific Coastal Airlines will resume service next month

‘We are pleased to confirm that we will be resuming scheduled service on June 1, 2020’

MP Rachel Blaney feels low-income boost for seniors falls short, but is pleased with the support for commercial fishers

‘Seniors in our communities have been asking for help with additional costs due to COVID-19’

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read